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Report card gives Australian kids D- for physical activity

Olivia Shying, March 29, 2022 7:00PM Kids News

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The 2022 Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Young People found only a quarter of Australian children and young people were meeting national guidelines for their age, resulting in a D- grade for overall physical activity. Picture: file image media_cameraThe 2022 Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Young People found only a quarter of Australian children and young people were meeting national guidelines for their age, resulting in a D- grade for overall physical activity. Picture: file image

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Reading level: green

Australian children are not moving enough, sparking fears that sedentary* living patterns set in childhood will grow the risk of poor health outcomes* in later life.

Data compiled for the 2022 Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Young People found only a quarter of Australian children and young people were meeting national guidelines for their age, resulting in a D- grade for overall physical activity.

Additionally, Australian children and young people have below average fitness levels compared to international benchmarks*, resulting in only a slightly better score of D+ for physical fitness.

Two Young Teenage Boys Playing Video Game media_cameraAustralian children and young people have below average fitness levels compared to international benchmarks. Picture: file image

Deakin University’s Institute for Physical Activity and Nutrition (IPAN) research lead, Professor Kylie Hesketh, said the physical activity grades were largely unchanged from the 2018 Report Card and there was little improvement in overall physical activity benchmarks for children and young people since the report card initiative* began in 2014.

“What is even more worrying is that data collected for the 2022 Report Card was largely collected pre-Covid and there is growing evidence that physical activity rates fell even further during the pandemic, due to repeated lockdowns, school closures and interruptions to community sport,” Professor Hesketh said.

Kids Views on COVID-19 media_cameraIsla, 9, stayed active during Melbourne’s Covid lockdowns by making the most of her backyard trampoline, but many Australian children had limited options for regular movement. Picture: Ian Currie

“Australia continues to rate poorly when it comes to children and young people’s physical activity and there needs to be greater support for them to become more active.”

The 2022 Report Card, developed in partnership with ten academic and professional organisations across Australia, shows varying scores for the different support environments for children’s physical activity.

Community and Environment, which covers access to parks and sports grounds, scored well (A-) but other areas such as Government (C-) and School (C+) scored poorly.

Netball media_cameraVarious support environments for children’s physical activity scored differently, with an A- given to Community and Environment, which covers access to parks and sports grounds. Skateboarder Ruby, 13, is pictured competing at St Kilda Beach skate bowl in Victoria. Picture: Jason Edwards

“A number of states have invested in initiatives that provide financial support for children to engage* in organised sport, but organised sport alone is not enough to increase physical activity levels,” Professor Hesketh said.

“One of the main reasons government initiatives lost marks is due to a lack of physical activity policy. Australia is one of the few countries that does not have a National Physical Activity Plan that would provide a road map for improving the grades.”

Professor Hesketh said that children needed access to more varied physical activity options, beyond organised sport.

“Broadening physical activity options for children and young people will increase activity levels in our community and bring associated health and wellbeing benefits,” she said.

Kids Ditching Tech for Outdoors media_camera12-year-old Adhyan Kathpal started his own initiative to encourage his classmates to play in the park and swap the iPads for playing outdoors. Picture: Tony Gough

GLOSSARY

  • sedentary: spending too much time seated or inactive
  • outcomes: results, consequences, effects
  • benchmark: a standard for measuring, assessing or judging other things of the same type
  • initiatives: new idea, enterprise, method or attempt to achieve a goal or solve a problem
  • engage: capture, attract, interest
  • road map: a strategic plan, defining a goal and the steps and milestones needed to reach it

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QUICK QUIZ

  1. Was the 2022 Report Card data pre-Covid or including the pandemic period?
  2. What was the average fitness level score compared to international benchmarks?
  3. Does Australia have a national physical activity policy?
  4. What scores were given to Government and School support environments?
  5. How was the 2022 Report Card developed?

LISTEN TO THIS STORY

CLASSROOM ACTIVITIES
1. Physical failings
In the past eight years since this report card system was introduced, Australians haven’t improved the low score for children and young people’s physical activity (D-) or physical fitness (D+).

This is a worrying sign for children’s overall health as they begin adulthood.

Name five things that could be introduced by families, the government or schools to improve children’s physical activity and physical fitness levels.

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

Time: allow 20 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English; Health and Physical Education; Critical and Creative Thinking

2. Extension
Apart from organised sport, what else could you and your friends do to increase your activity levels in everyday life?

Do you think it’s your personal responsibility, as well as that of adults, to get outside and play more, rather than focus on inside games or inactive pursuits?

Time: allow 10 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English; Health and Physical Education; Personal and Social

VCOP ACTIVITY
1. Summarise the article
A summary is a brief statement of the main points of something. It does not usually include extra detail or elaborate on the main points.

Use the 5W & H model to help you find the key points of this article. Read the article carefully to locate who and what this article is about, and where, when, why and how this is happening. Once you have located this information in the article, use it to write a paragraph that summarises the article.

Time: allow 25 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English; Science

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